Westray.org Logo

Dressed To Kill

Steed's Tale - "Dressed To Kill" - Chapter 10

Journal of Prince "Major" Jonathan Steed of Amber:
Based on a Scenario by Rain Donaldson
Written by: R. Cal Westray, Jr. in 1997-1998.
Steed's history was written in 1994.

"Extraordinary crimes against the people and the state,
need to be avenged by agents extraordinary..."

Episode A4-10 - Something Nasty in the TARDIS

In which Steed takes a flight of fancy
... and Emma joins him on a bug hunt.

I hate to leave Emma behind. However, I don't know when I will be back. I trust her to find Random, if he is available. Random needs to know that we got out of Chaos and now have Merlin and Eric in Amber. Random can handle 'that' little problem.
I review the reasons for my decision. I decided that it was time to consult the one person who could teach me what I want to know. My Pattern ability needs to be improved 'or' I need to learn Trump Artistry - at least to be able to do quick sketches.
I do not want to be dependent upon others for teleporting to places - or to get needed Trumps. This shortcoming is becoming more apparent with each mission; my Trumps get misplaced or I end up in places that Shadow walks are too time consuming. A nuisance indeed.
Another reason for leaving, is to let the others deal with the Merlin and Eric situation. I do not know if 'this' Eric knows what the Eric in the Jewel of Judgment knew. If he does, he may think to use me as a pawn to help him out of this predicament. I can retain my objectivity, but I would rather that he didn't play it out in front of the others. Some things should not be known. Besides, I should 'always' be above suspicion...
So, I stepped through the Trump to Dworkin. I appear with him, where?
I find that I am in a small dark room, lit by a single candle, half burned down. The countenance of Dworkin greets me. The candle light reflects off his eyes with the hint of knowing things better left unknown. In the small room, there is art everywhere. Pictures on the walls; with and without frames. Some pictures are drawn on the wall itself.
The hunchback smiles and rubs his gnarled hands together. "So, you want to be a student?"
I smile. "Yes, great grandfather. I think it is time to enhance my skills."
He chuckles. "So... what do you want to learn?"
"I would like to do things, like teleport. So that I may go to places and find people quicker."
He gives me a look that I find unsettling. "Teleporting is very easy. The trick is 'not' teleporting." I must look as though I completely fail to comprehend his meaning, because I do. "That's right."
"Well then, I suppose I should learn how to do both."
He rubs his chin. "I guess they 'would' go together. Which do you wish to learn first?"
I give it some thought. It would be bad if I teleported away, without learning how 'not' to teleport. "I think that it would be best if I learn how 'not' to teleport, so I can control when I 'want' to teleport."
He looks at me closely. "You are already 'not' teleporting, so that's a good start."
"I see." I don't. "That's good."
Dworkin. "Where do you want to learn how 'not' to teleport to first?"
I think that I will develop a headache from this line of reasoning. I feel like I am a character out of a Lewis Carroll story, talking to the charming old hatter. "Hmm."
Dworkin. "I find it very easy 'not' to teleport to vast distances."
"That's good. I think short distances is quite sufficient for 'not' teleporting." Madness lies in this direction.
Dworkin. "Well, I think you should practicing 'not' teleporting around the room. It can take time, 'not' teleporting. You stay here and work on that."
"How do you work on 'not' teleporting?" Not expecting an intelligent answer.
Dworkin. "Until you fail to get there."
I wasn't disappointed. "And where would I go to, if I failed to 'not' teleport?"
Dworkin. "That can be tricky. I guess you will just have to not fail."
"What 'exactly' do I have to do to keep from teleporting?"
He stops to think about that and disappears.
Oops. I take the time to look at his art work, with the purpose of not leaving. There were a couple of times I thought I was going to fail, but held on. I'm still here. By the Unicorn, this is balmy. I get the feeling that I am being watched. The pictures seem to be looking at me. I get the impression that they are all Trumps. I decide it is not a good idea to look at any of them for long.
Some pictures are surrealist paintings of things, places, and people; none of which I wish to see first hand. Serious encouragement for 'not' wanting to go there. There are scenes of Chaos and other places from Shadow. There are portraits of family members and people I haven't met. I continue to concentrate on 'not' teleporting.
One painting draws my attention. I didn't realize that Dworkin was a horse aficionado or a judge of horse flesh. I move the candle to get a better look and set the book on the desk.
To my surprise, it is not a horse, but the Unicorn of Amber. I would recognize her easily, yet the background is not the grove; so I have no idea 'where' the painting represents. He has painted a saucy portrait of the Unicorn; painted from an odd angle. One that never would have occurred to me, but would definitely occur to the mate of the Unicorn. That old bugger.
I hear a voice behind me. "Do you like that one?" Dworkin chuckles. "She's a looker, isn't she?"
I turn and smile. "I've met her a time or two." I change the subject, because I don't want to know about the proclivities of my great grandparents. "Where did you pop off to?"
He stops to think about it. "It's not so much of a where. It was an un-where."
"That would not be good."
Dworkin. "Why not?"
I shrug. "It sounds like a place in a vacuum." Not very hospitable for visiting.
Dworkin. "No, they weren't doing any cleaning."
"Never mind." I'm being dragged into a tangential thought of his.
Dworkin. "Have you been having any luck with 'not' teleporting?"
"I haven't gone anywhere." I don't know if that counts as success.
Dworkin. "Sure you have, you are here. You 'were' over there." Pointing to the other side of the room.
"I wasn't teleporting, I walked. If I teleported, would I know I teleported?"
Dworkin. "Well, not if you teleported to the same place. That's tricky, avoiding teleporting to where you are."
I smile. "It seems like that would happen all the time."
He starts to flicker. It is 'not' a trick of the candle light. "Why do you say that?"
"If you did teleport back to the same place, you wouldn't know that you actually left." I think that sounds right, but I am getting confused with his line of reasoning. He looks lost in thought, I continue. "If I teleported back to there." Pointing to the other side of the room. "I would know I teleported from here to there. If you teleport to the same place, how would you actually know you left?"
Dworkin. "I guess you wouldn't know. Maybe everyone teleports all the time?" He doesn't sound like he actually believes it.
I don't think so, at least I hope not. Very well, I don't want to know. "I think the type of teleporting I would like to learn, is to some place else - then maybe back to the same place."
Dworkin. "Why would you want to teleport to some place else, when you can teleport to where you are, all the time? Maybe you already know how to teleport. My! I'm a good teacher!"
"I think I have successfully learned how 'not' to teleport."
Dworkin. "Do you want a diploma?"
"No, I think I would like to learn how 'to' teleport now." He 'is' the hatter.
Dworkin. "Well, do you remember how you were 'not' teleporting before? Then stop it."
"Do I need to make any preparations for it?"
Dworkin. "You already 'know' how to teleport."
"But I am still here."
Dworkin. "Oh! You are trying to teleport to some place specific?"
"Yes. For starters, some place close by and easy to reach. Say... some place in Castle Amber."
Dworkin. "You want to teleport to somewhere in Castle Amber. Then do it." He sounds like an impatient parent now.
I begin by summoning the Sign of the Pattern, which comes fairly quickly here. I must be close to the Pattern. I bring to my mind the image of the place I want to go. How about the entrance to the Pattern room? That will do quite nicely. I explain to Dworkin what I am doing and I concentrate on the image of the entrance to the Pattern room - 'not' on the Pattern, but by the door. I step 'to' that place. I look around, I am a step closer to Dworkin.
Dworkin frowns. "Are you 'still' here?" Stating the painfully obvious.
"At least I am not in the same place." I try to sound encouraging - and failing.
Dworkin. "It was not a teleport, as much as it was a walk."
"There is that. What am I missing? There must be something I am overlooking." I knit my eyebrows together in concentration.
Dworkin. "Well, let's go over this step by step. What is the first thing you did?"
"I summoned the Sign of the Pattern to my mind."
Dworkin sounds condescending. "I guess 'you' have to do that."
That infers he doesn't? Oh my.
"Second step?" He taps his foot on the floor.
"I concentrated upon the place I want to go to."
Dworkin. "O.K. Then?" He continues to tap his foot.
"Then I mentally step toward it. Do I need to walk the Pattern in my mind first?"
Dworkin. "I've never had to, 'you' might though."
"Maybe I should try it as the second step." I explain to him as I do it. I mentally step on the Pattern and follow it through all the intricate lines, bends, and turns. I reach the center of the Pattern in my mind and think of the entrance to the Pattern room and will the Pattern to take me there. I open my eyes and see Dworkin, looking irritated. Oh, bother.
Dworkin. "You seem to be missing something here in the last part. Because you make the step and you are still here."
I shrug. "It must be something simple that I am overlooking. Something that it is inherently possible for me to do."
Dworkin. "So, you walked the Pattern in your mind and you concentrated on your destination. And you are thinking about being there, but you are still 'not' teleporting. You can't be thinking of being there and being aware that you are still here, unless you can be at two places at once. Which I 'think' is a little advanced for you. So you are having trouble continuing to 'not' teleporting. Well, I have to admit, you are really good at that part."
"I'm afraid so."
Dworkin. "Very well. Now. Remember the 'not' teleporting?"
Dworkin shouts. "Well, stop it!" And his arm reached around with blinding speed and slaps me on the cheek.
I am startled and the shock of it causes me to 'forget' to 'not' teleport. And Dworkin fades from view. He smiles. I find myself appearing in the Pattern room, I am facing the Pattern and the door is at my back. I did it! Amazing! I 'can' teleport. "So 'that's' how it works."
Dworkin's training reminds me of boarding school. Just as painful and just as confusing. Teleporting is an odd sensation, that I will definitely remember how to do it now. I drop the Pattern in my mind and contemplate what I am going to do with my new found ability. I look at the Pattern and remember that my abilities comes from the power I summon from it. What else will I be able to do with it?
My silence is disturbed by the huge door opening. Into the Pattern room walks: Leonardo, Doctor, Ace, Merlin, Eric, and Emma.
Emma crosses her arms. "So, 'that's' where you went?"
I smile. "Well, no. I just popped in a moment ago."
The Doctor smiles, carrying a coiled spring, he refers to as a slinky. "Pardon us, but we are planning a scientific experiment."
Leonardo walks to the edge of the Pattern. He sets the slinky on the Pattern and gives it a push. It turns over, end over end. It goes for a bit and stops.
"This doesn't look like a good idea." I comment to myself.
The Doctor repeats the process with his slinky, after writing a name on it. It follows the same path as the other. When it reaches the other, it slinks onto the other; stacking perfectly vertically on the other.
The Doctor says to Merlin and Eric. "Alright, you two know the drill, just mind the slinkies. Why don't you pick them up as you go along? Which one of you is first?" Eric and Merlin point to each other. The Doctor continues. "O.K. you first." Pointing to Eric.
He shrugs and proceeds to walk the Pattern. As Eric reaches the slinkies, he picks one up. He then plays with it as he continues his walk.
The Doctor uses a Trump and pulls out a few lawn chairs; the aluminum ones with plastic webbing.
I smile. "Nice trick, old boy. You wouldn't happen to have a Trump of Random, would you?"
Leonardo passes me one, before the Doctor finds it. I concentrate on the Trump and reach Random.
"Steed here, my liege. Where are you?"
:In the castle, why do you want to know?:
"I wanted to let you know that we got out of Castle Chaos. We are back in Amber and down in the Pattern room."
:All of you?:
"Almost all of us. We have Eric and Merlin with us. We are trying to sort out who is who."
:You should keep Eric off the Pattern.:
"That's what I thought, but he's walking it now."
:Pull me through.:
I do. Now Random is here to help with the decision making. Not that it will help. Things seem to be getting out of control.
Random looks around to evaluate the situation; then he says to hold on a minute. He is concentrating like he is trying to receive a Trump call. He reaches through a rainbow portal and pulls out Scout and Anna.
I look at Scout and Anna. "I see you two made it out of the Cineverse."
Leonardo asks. "What the hell is the Cineverse?"
Emma is the local expert on the subject and answers. It's a group of universes that are a lot like what Shadow Earth 'sees' in movies and television.
Leonardo. "That sounds dangerous."
Emma smirks. "It can be."
I continue talking to Scout and Anna. "I was certain that you two were lost in the Cineverse, after we escaped the dungeons of Chaos."
Anna looks at Scout. "Are you back to yourself, Scout?"
He looks indignant. "I've 'always' been myself."
She shakes her head. "I wasn't sure there for awhile."
Random crosses his arms in irritation. "I really think I should ask this now. Why is Eric walking the Pattern and what in the Hell are slinkies doing on the Pattern?"
Kat answers. "Because Eric is Merlin and Merlin is Eric."
Doctor. "This gets complicated, and ignore the slinkies for now. We brought Eric and Merlin from Chaos. They both claim to be Merlin. We were certain that Merlin was in the dungeon in Chaos, in the form of Eric, so we broke him out. Also, Eric was on the throne, in the form of Merlin. We ran some tests, which were inconclusive. It gets even more complicated, so we brought them here to use the Pattern to straighten things out."
Random frowns. "So you are letting one of them walk the Pattern?"
Doctor. "Yes."
Random's brows knit together. "What is to stop them from leaving?"
The Doctor smiles, confident of the plan. "Nothing. But then, we will know which is the real Merlin."
Random shakes his head. "Did you get this plan from Suehprom? Where 'is' he anyway?"
The Doctor tries not to look insulted. "No, he was upstairs with Jenny. So, you 'didn't' want Eric to leave, did you?"
Random. "It would have been nice to have been consulted, before you put him on the Pattern."
Doctor. "Sorry, we tried to reach you earlier. We seemed to be on our own. The slinkies are another experiment, but nothing important."
Random looks at the slinky on the Pattern and shakes his head. He sees Eric playing with the Doctor's slinky, as he is walking the Pattern.
The Doctor gets a lawn chair for Random and they sit down to watch the Pattern walk.
Eric reaches the third veil and still looks like Eric, even though he insists that he is Merlin.
A string appears at the doorway.
Scout asks. "Kat, do you still have my stone?"
Kat finds it. "Yes. I also have a safety pin, if you are interested."
Scout. "What would I do with a safety pin?" He then realizes what she means, to use on the balloon of Jenny's that is by the door. "Is the stone buzzing?"
Kat. "No." She gives it back to him.
Scout. "Thanks."
The Doctor opens the door and lets the balloon in the Pattern room. "Hello." If he is expecting a response, I didn't hear one. The balloon bobs around the room and moves behind Kat and 'stays' with her. No doubt, a 'gift' from Smiling Jenny.
Leonardo looks at the balloon. "It this some stupid joke from Jenny? I don't particularly care for her."
Kat. "Probably."
Doctor. "You don't care for Jenny?"
Leonardo. "No."
Doctor. "The balloons are marvelous pieces of work."
Leonardo. "I also don't like Suehprom. He looks at me strangely."
Scout. "He's O.K., just don't get involved in any of his plans."
Leonardo. "What's wrong about his plans?"
Scout. "Anything."
Leonardo. "Random events?"
Anna. "Big boom."
Leonardo. "Oh."
Ace smiles about the 'big boom'.
Leonardo. "The best laid plans of mice and Suehprom."
Scout. "Yeah."
We watch Eric. He is still playing with the Doctor's slinky, making a good case that he is Merlin. Eric wouldn't do anything that strange. He makes it to the center of the Pattern. He still looks like Eric. Whatever happened to him, didn't reverse itself on the Pattern. Eric calls out. "The Pattern should have changed me back to myself. You guys believe I'm Merlin, right?"
The Doctor answers. "Come over here and we'll discuss it. Relax. If you still think you are Merlin, we can do some further tests, to see what Eric did to you."
Eric is agitated. "You're just saying that, so I will come over there. I'm in the middle of the Pattern, I can go anywhere I want."
Doctor. "Yes, you could."
Eric. "If I go over there, you will just put me in a cell again."
Scout. "Look, we just got you 'out' of a cell, why would we put you back?"
Doctor. "If you run from us, you are obviously Eric. If you come over here, you may be Merlin and we will give you the benefit of the doubt."
I add. "If you go back to Chaos, claiming to be Merlin; no one will believe you. 'They' will put you back in the cell. No good to run, old boy."
Eric behaves like a caged animal. "I need to think this over."
I remember the ruins of the Chaosian dungeons. Not a pleasant place to be, not like 'here'. Something is strange. I had the same sensations as I did teleporting, but I am back in the same place. I look around. Everyone is looking at me as though I grew a new appendage. Emma has a genuine look of concern.
Doctor. "Steed! Where did you get to?"
"I didn't go anywhere. At least I wasn't aware that I did." I didn't summon the Pattern anyway.
Doctor. "Yes, you did."
Scout. "You were gone for quite awhile. We thought that Eric had something to do with it."
"Oh dear, no. I'm trying to 'not' go anywhere. Apparently, I haven't quite got the hang of it yet."
That got me some looks. Eric calls out. "I'm 'not' Eric, I'm Merlin!"
Merlin responds. "I'm Merlin."
This goes on for some time.
By the Unicorn! I teleported 'without' summoning the Pattern! Now, I understand what Dworkin meant. I wasn't even trying to teleport, my mind just wandered about another place.
Doctor. "Stop that, Steed! You're flickering!"
Scout. "We're getting bad reception on Steed."
I reply. "As long as I don't go black and white."
Scout. "Been there, done that."
Doctor. "Steed, you need your reality adjusted a bit."
Merlin. "You could walk the Pattern to secure your reality, and pick up the slinky on the way."
I shake my head, I hope that won't be necessary. "I just need to concentrate upon 'not' teleporting. That's the trick bit."
Leonardo is trying to puncture the balloon with a dagger.
Doctor. "Look, old boy, stop that before you cut off someone's ear."
With the teleporting I have done, I expected to feel drained; but I feel fine. How many times could I teleport before I tire?
The Doctor addresses Eric, who surprisingly hasn't left yet. "The Pattern didn't change you back to Merlin. That suggests two things. One, he did something very complex to you that will take more time to reverse. Two, you really are Eric, and we just screwed up."
Eric frowns. "I like option one. I 'know' I'm not Eric."
Doctor. "O.K., it's like this. You can poof somewhere and make us assume you are Eric; or you can come here and we will take you to a technological Shadow and run some more sophisticated tests. We will see if we can straighten things out there. Maybe we can see what he did to you and reverse it."
Eric. "If I come back and you can't prove I'm not Eric, then am I going to end up in a cell again?"
Doctor. "Well, yes." Oh, what a give away. Doctor, you could at 'least' sugar coat it!
Eric. "That's what I thought."
Doctor. "But, we will take a look at you in every possible way."
Eric. "I know who can help me." He disappears.
I know the feeling, Eric. I'm afraid 'that' is going to happen to me a lot. Think about a place and 'poof', off you go.
Doctor. "Oh, bloody hell."
Scout. "I know where he went." He takes out his stone and contemplates something.
Doctor. "O.K. Merlin, your turn. Just to be certain."
Merlin. "If I need to do it to prove who I am." He begins the walk on the Pattern.
I turn to Emma, who has been watching me closely. "Emma, did I really pop off?"
Emma frowns. "Certainly, Steed. You mean you didn't mean to?"
"Not at all. I went off to visit Dworkin to learn a new ability. I'm still trying to control it."
Emma arches her eyebrow. "I see. Does this mean it will happen again?"
"I hope not, but who knows?"
She locks her arm in mine. "The next time you pop off, let's see if I go along." I will also learn if I can teleport with someone else.
Doctor. "We may have freed Merlin from the cell. Now Eric is free again. If you are Merlin, I'm glad you are back to normal. If you are Eric, don't try to take over anything. Remember to get the slinky. Thank you."
Merlin picks up Leonardo's slinky and continues walking the Pattern.
Scout has decided to use his stone to track down Eric, taking Anna with him. He plans on using the slow method, the Royal Way through Shadow.
Doctor. "Have fun. Don't get dead."
Scout. "I'll do my best." They take the stairs up to the castle.
I look around the Pattern room, who is still here? Random, Doctor, Ace, Leonardo, Kat, Emma, and myself; with Merlin on the Pattern. Someone sings a tune. "Oh, I walked on the Pattern with a slinky with no name... On the Pattern, you can't remember your name..."
Leonardo. "I think I will conjure a man sized slinky."
Random. "Steed, remind me to increase the number of guards to the Pattern room."
I smile. "Certainly. By the way, have I gone anywhere yet?"
Emma. "No, but the night is still young."
We watch Merlin, he is playing with the slinky too. He reaches the center. "I made it to the center and I'm still me. Is there anything else I need to do, to prove who I am?"
No answers.
"I should probably go back home. I think they may be a little upset about what happened. Especially about the earthquakes." He looks at Leonardo.
Doctor. "Yes, it is best you head back to straighten things out. Sorry for the trouble."
Merlin. "Thanks for rescuing me from the cell."
Kat. "Wait a minute. Rescuing 'you' from the cell?"
Merlin smiles. "Of course. I 'am' Merlin."
We all come to the same realization. Did they somehow switch back, 'before' walking the Pattern? Probably during the jaunt in the Cineverse, via the Captain Crusader decoder ring of Emma's? And this Merlin is actually Merlin? I try to sound casual. "Well, it looks as though everything is straightened out now." Laughter.
Kat and the Doctor ask Merlin what he remembers.
He thinks back. "I was down in the cell, we got out, it got dark, there was an earthquake, I was hit on the head, and I ended up in the Cineverse with the Doctor."
Kat. "What did the Doctor ask you in the dungeon?"
Merlin. "He asked me to concentrate on removing the blockage, so we could escape."
Doctor. "Before that, when you were in the cell. There was something else."
Merlin. "The three questions you asked." He gives the same responses.
Doctor. "Bloody heck. He walked the Pattern, he knows the same things the Merlin in the cell knew. It was agreed that the Pattern would have removed any spells. Therefore, the Eric that left with my slinky, 'was' Eric."
I still sound casual. "As I said before, it looks as though everything 'is' straightened out now. Merlin, thanks for cooperating with us. Please try to clear things up at the Courts for us. After all, we were just trying to rescue the King of Chaos from wrongful imprisonment; if they ignore the earthquakes and damage to the castle. On the bright side, we 'may' have averted a war."
He tosses the slinky back to Leonardo, who wants to try more slinky experiments.
Random attempts to bring some order to the situation. "I think we have 'finished' with the Pattern experiments. We should all go upstairs for ice cream. Leonardo, take that big slinky with you. I don't want it 'in' here."
I declare. "It must be tea time again."
Doctor. "Alright, let's go. Thanks, Merlin. Have a nice trip."
I add. "Give my regards to Hershall and the rest of our family in Chaos."
Merlin. "O.K." He fades to somewhere, probably back to Chaos.
I look at Emma. "Would you like to take the express, my dear?"
She holds on tighter. "It 'would' be preferred over the stairs."
The Pattern room fades from view and is replaced by the surroundings of the Great Hall. There is a flurry of activity, preparing food, serving, and cleaning. When I am seen, a serving girl takes our order and we find a place to sit, we walk to the table reserved for the younger family members.
Fortunately, there are no elders present. I will have to be more careful. I don't want to have to explain things. We join Suehprom and Smiling Jenny at the table.
Suehprom asks. "How did things go downstairs? How did you get here, by Trump?"
I smile. "I think everything is settled for now. And no, I just popped up ahead of the others."
Emma and I have our first cup of tea, while waiting. The others will arrive shortly. I may grow to enjoy this new trick.
I get the attention of a guard and forward a message to the guard commander. 'King Random is on his way up from the Pattern room. He will want additional guards posted at the stairs.' This way, he will be ready to respond to Random's orders, making him look more alert and responsive to Random's requests. It helps to keep the guard commander happy, I may need a favor later.
Suehprom gets my attention. "So, what's for dinner?"
I reply. "Anything you want, within reason. Tell the serving girl what you want, the staff should be able to prepare it. She could tell you what is already prepared, I'm sure it will be special."
They get ice cream. I refuse to relate the flavor. I'm quite sure Michael doesn't stock it.
Suehprom asks. "By the way, which was Merlin?"
I smile after taking another sip of tea. "They apparently switched back after we left Chaos. They - just left. Merlin went back home. Scout and Anna went to track down Eric."
He smiles too. "So... Eric got away? Remember, 'I' had nothing to do with those plans. That said, let's have dinner."
The Doctor and the others arrive. "There you are."
Suehprom. "Doctor, you look tired, did you take the stairs? Steed, you let them take the stairs?"
I shrug. "Everyone follows their own path. I disappeared too soon to ask."
The Doctor smiled. "No problem. Let's eat."
We pass the time with small talk.
The Doctor gets my attention. "I say, old chap. I thought that was rather anti-climatic."
I smile. "Yes, it was." I am enjoying tea, but I recall an old haunt. "I remember a place where I use to go for tea, in the old days. Doctor, do you remember Harrods? There is a tea house, across the street called the Richoux. One of the best places for tea..."
I notice Emma taking my arm. Why? Oh dear, I did it again.
The background of the Great Hall is fading and is replaced with the hallway to the Richoux. "Since we are here, we may as well have tea."
Emma looks at me with amusement. "Steed, I will be very glad, when you learn to control this new skill of yours. It seems more useful than Trumps, you're like a walking Trump."
That gets my attention, it 'does' look that way. I focus on 'not' teleporting again. Her words also remind me of one in our family that was considered a 'Living Trump'. He used his ability to try to destroy Amber and re-create everything in his own image. I had often thought that he gained it from the Font of Power at the Keep of the Four Worlds. Did Dworkin teach this to him as well? I recover my smile. "I quite agree. I hope I get the hang of it soon."
The maitre'd turns and sees us. I look around, no one seems to have noticed our arrival. I estimate the odds of waiting for a table, is virtually naught. I was right; he takes us to a table that overlooks Harrods and gives a view of the traffic on the street and people on the walkways.
We place our order and wait. How nice, we are back in our own Shadow and things are quiet for awhile. No sense in rushing back. They will know where we are and we will return soon enough.
It is pleasant to see the traffic and bustle of activity in England again. As I look out the window, I see a police call box materializing in Harrods' parking lot. "Look, Emma. The Doctor has decided to join us." Ace steps out of the TARDIS, but there is no sign of the Doctor.
Shortly, she appears at the maitre'd station. She whistles for a waiter and waves at us. He brings her to our table. Ace must look like our wayward daughter. Emma in her leather cat suit, Ace in her leather jacket and punk style clothing, and I in my suit.
The food is quickly delivered and it is quite good. The Doctor is busy on something and he wants us to bring him tea.
Ace asks me in a Cockney accent. "So... how did you get here anyway?"
"I just popped in. I'm learning how to teleport."
She grins. "So, you can go 'anywhere'?"
"I'm trying 'not' to."
Ace. "So, like, you could go to Skarro where all the Daleks are?"
"I would rather not, Daleks are horrid beasties."
Ace. "Or, the planet of the Cybermen?"
"Not if I can help it." Concentrate on staying 'here'!
Ace. "Or, you could go to where Davros is."
"Thank you, no."
Ace. "Or, to where the Master is."
"Especially not him."
Ace. "It's almost like having a TARDIS in your head."
I do not want to go there, I want to 'not' teleport. Emma watches in amusement. She knows that I 'need' this to keep a firm grasp on my abilities. If I can stay here with Ace rambling on, I am doing quite well.
Ace. "Have you been hanging around the Doctor long?"
"For awhile, yes." It could be classified as ages with the various fast and slow time Shadows we've been in. "It seems like ages. I also knew the Doctor when he worked for the Brigadier."
Ace. "I admit, I don't understand the squiggle and all."
I smile. "It's a family heirloom." I take a sip of tea, looking over the cup at her.
Ace. "It sort of reminds me of hopscotch, with all the boxes and staying within the lines."
"It's just a 'little' more dangerous than hopscotch."
Ace. "So, it's sort of like hopscotch. Instead of going back to the start, if you make a mistake, it blows your head off?"
"Pretty much, yes." Quite tasty biscuits, stay 'here' for the biscuits.
Ace. "So, is there any place you 'couldn't' go with your TARDIS in the head trick?"
I'm 'not' going anywhere. "I suppose not, but I'm trying to 'not' go anywhere."
Ace. "Of course not, the tea is here."
"Of course." I grin.
Emma looks at me over her tea cup. "I'm reminded of an old saying... be careful what you wish for." She takes a sip. "You may get it."
I raise my eyebrow at that. "Indeed, my dear." I concentrate on 'not' teleporting. Another sip. What is this? A bug is crawling around on the floor at my feet. A bug in the Richoux? That is most irregular. I step on it and I hear a loud crunch.
Ace. "Noisy biscuits. I did promise the Doctor I would bring him some tea."
We placed a carry out order of tea and biscuits. I paid for our dinner in cash, much more in my wallet than I remembered. I leave a generous tip.
Ace calls out to the waiter. "Could we have a doggy bag here?" One is brought. "Nice place they have here. Nice biscuits. The tea's not bad either. It could use a little more sugar."
Emma and I find it amusing. "If you want, you can take the food to the Doctor."
"All right." She gets up, takes the food, and steps on another bug. "The darn place is infested. What kind of bugs are these, anyway?"
"I don't know." I look around and see more. This is quite odd.
"They ought to call an exterminator." Most people have heard her and are getting uneasy. Some are leaving. "For a nice place like this, they could afford an exterminator."
I decide to play exterminator. I begin to 'edit' Shadow Earth to see if I can make a bug disappear. The Abyss would be a fine home for it, while 'I' stay here. It vanishes.
Ace left to check on the Doctor. We leave a minute behind her, I finish my tea first.
We soon reach the TARDIS and find the door open. Ladies first, so Emma precedes me. Ace is with the Doctor at the control panel. He appears to be fixing something.
Ace. "Doctor, we were in a real nice place; but it is infested with bugs."
Doctor. "Bugs?"
Ace. "Little black things as long as my pinkie nail."
Doctor. "We've got a problem." Again? "Those bugs 'came' from the TARDIS."
Ace. "Oh, space bugs?"
Doctor. "No. Somebody's been using the internal manufacturing plant to make them."
I interrupt. "What do they do, Doctor?"
Doctor. "They bite you when you pick them up. Which I did. They leave a bit of marker in you."
"Oh, like the marker you used with Merlin?"
Doctor. "Yes, actually. Exactly the same as used with Merlin."
"Didn't it inject a harmless dye into the DNA?"
Doctor. "Yes, and I can get rid of it with no problem."
My suspicious nature kicks in. "What if they were used to do something other than 'tag' DNA?"
The Doctor looks concerned. "What are you suggesting?"
"Someone's been mucking about in your TARDIS, creating more of these little beasties. I hope the dye they inject is truly harmless. I hope whoever did it is not up to anything more devious than creating more bugs." Possibly making something that 'alters' DNA?
Ace. "I think I may have left the door open, Doctor."
Doctor. "Don't worry about it Ace, they would have gotten out sooner or later."
Ace looks at me. "Where did you send the bug to?"
"I dropped it off in the Abyss."
The Doctor is startled. "Sorry old chap, I sort of expected you to fade out again."
Oops, I hope not. Concentrate on 'not' teleporting.
Ace. "What is the Abyss, Doctor?"
Doctor. "The Abyss is a place where all reality ends. It's a big hole."
"Can you find out what those bugs are doing?"
Doctor. "In time, yes. The problem is... Oh, why didn't I think of this sooner?" The Doctor decides to try to capture one.
"Are there any in the control room?"
Doctor. "There were some. Come on, let's have a bug hunt, then. Through the TARDIS." He motions like he is leading a charge.
I add. "We just have to catch them without touching them." Apparently, they don't have mouths to bite with, but they have an injection mechanism and extraction mechanism; like a mechanical mosquito. They gather material into themselves. They bite through wires, using the 'sampler' extraction mechanism; taking repeated samples.
The Doctor gathers Mason jars for us. They should hold the bugs for a short time. He gets another idea. "We are going to the armory to get stasis cells. Keep your eyes open for bugs. Catch them in the jars until we transfer them into the stasis cells."
We are now armed with Mason jars and stasis cells, ready for bug hunting. The Doctor catches one. "Into the cell you go." We go to the computer room. He examines his prize with the computer. He discovered that the bugs are members of a mechanical hive mind. They were built to construct something, 'what' is unknown. Each bug carries part of the instructions, we need to capture as many as possible to get a bigger piece of the puzzle. We also don't know 'who for', 'where', or 'when' - the 'what' is to be constructed. We gather the bug remnants from the shoes of the Doctor, Ace, and myself. He gets more of the picture, but not enough.
Something has been troubling me. "Doctor, something seems to be missing."
The Doctor looks at me in confusion. "Missing?"
I remember. "That's it, where is K-9?"
He snaps his fingers. "K-9!" He scrambles down the corridor, looking for the mechanical pet. K-9 is laying on his side, unmoving. He prods him with his foot. A bug skitters out. He catches him in the cell. "Into the cell with you." He picks up K-9 and shakes him. Another falls out. Ace catches it. The Doctor uses a portable scanner on him then removes a cover plate. No more bugs. "Oh, bugger!"
Ace. "That's what you got here alright, Doctor. Lot's of little buggers."
I ask. "Will K-9 be alright?"
Doctor. "I believe so, there doesn't seem to be any damage to the core. They mostly focused on the linkage to quickly disable him."
Emma. "Poor thing."
Doctor. "I wonder how they got to K-9, without his noticing them? They probably fell from the ceiling to surprise him."
I look up at the thought. We take K-9 to the computer room, so he can be repaired and the bugs can be added to the collection. The Doctor may discover the plan behind the bugs, in time. For now, more bugs are needed.
Emma looks at me. "Who is behind this? Another diabolical 'Master'-mind?"
I grin. "Most likely." I smile at the pun.
Doctor. "Steed and Mrs. Peel, you're needed."
Emma and I look at him and each other.
Doctor. "There are several things we need to do. First, can you use your Pattern to track down the rest of the bugs in the TARDIS. Then we can head outside and track them down in London. When you catch them, pop them into the stasis cells."
"Check inside the TARDIS first?"
"Right. Ace, you go with Mrs. Peel down the corridor to the right and look for bugs. Steed, you take the corridor to the left. I will stay here and repair K-9. When we gather 'all' the bugs, we should head to Galifrey. There's a matrix to check."
Ace and Emma head down the hall.
I face the corridor and summon the Sign of the Pattern. I concentrate on looking through the Pattern lens to look for bugs. The hallway fades. No, that's 'not' what I want to do. I appear in a Shadow, I don't know where. It is virtually crawling with these mechanical bugs, and I am quickly covered with them. NO! I want to return to the TARDIS, NOW! I fade again, still covered in the chittering creatures, my clothing is in tatters. "Doctor!" I am frantically trying to get them off me.
"You're back! Stop screaming for a second and hold still." He activates a device that covers me in a glass bubble. "Just a second, I am using a mild metal corrosive acid. I hope you aren't carrying anything important."
I cover my eyes, nose, and mouth with my hands. There is a mild burning sensation as the fluid covers me. The bugs fall off. Then I am covered with water to wash off the acid. My clothing is gone and my silvered items are laying on the floor of the bubble. My carnation protected me from the biting bugs. My bowler is all that I have for cover.
The Doctor smiles. "At least the women aren't here."
"I don't know where I was, but the entire Shadow was filled with those bugs." I am now drip drying and gathering my things in the bowler.
Doctor. "There's a wardrobe down the hall. Find something to change into, before they get back." He removes the bubble and returns to work on K-9.
I take my things and amble down the hall, with what is left of my dignity. I concentrate 'again' on 'not' going anywhere. And 'this' time, I 'mean' it!
I reach the wardrobe and find a towel to dry off myself and my things. The Doctor's wardrobe is quite impressive. It appears to have virtually any style of clothes imaginable. On a large central rack, I see clothes that came from 'Saville Row', 'Bailey & Weatherill', 'Gieves & Hawkes', 'Anderson & Sheppard', 'Harvie & Hudson', 'James Lock', 'Hemmings & Paul', and dozens of other stylish men's stores. There seems to be a lack of 'black' clothing, except hats. One thing though; every time I circle the rack, the room and it's contents change.
I decide it is time for a little change. I gather the proper components for a new suit. After finding and donning the appropriate underwear, I find the following: a tan jacket, fawn cavalry tapered twill trousers, a moss green waistcoat, white south sea silk shirt, fawn twill tie, moss green hose, and high tan boots. My silver and amber tie tack and cuff links will go well with this suit. I 'edit' Shadow to change the color of my bowler and brolly to fawn; with a moss green brolly cover and band on the bowler. The colors form a pleasant contrast. Finally, to 'edit' the size of the clothing to get the perfect fit!
I put my possessions away in their proper pockets. I tap my bowler in place and hook my brolly on my right wrist. I close the wardrobe and head back with a jaunty step. Perfection...

Back Link ButtonMore Link ButtonHome Page Link ButtonAmber Link Button


R. Cal Westray, Jr.
Copyright 2001 [Westray.org].
All rights reserved.
Revised: October 23, 2007 .